"He makes it really easy on you as a coach because he has tremendous football instincts," Michigan tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh said. "Things come really naturally to him. He doesn't have to see things too many times. He has a good sense for how things should look and feel, and he's a tough, physical guy."
Maryland thought they were getting a primetime showdown on national TV; what they got instead was a lesson in what being a member of the Big Ten is really about. Michigan is going to walk into your building, change the start time to just after breakfast, eat you for lunch, and be home in time for supper.
Facing a slate sky whipped up by the tendrils of Hurricane Joaquin, the Harbaugh 1.4 Wolverines left De’Veon Smith warm in his Ann Arbor stable, content to use the same strategy that got the Harbaugh 1.2s past UNLV: probe the inside, pop a thing or two when it’s time to get some points, and wait for your defense to throttle the will to football out of a vastly inferior opponent.
Growing up we called this a “Schembechler win,” and we got one, but not before a first half and change that conjured memories of a far more recent former Michigan coaching tenure. From Maryland receiving the kickoff, the drives went punt, punt, interception, fumble, punt, fumble, interception, missed FG, punt, field goal, punt, punt, punt, field goal, punt, kneel out half, interception, punt, punt, interception.
At this point I asked Twitter if they preferred a recap of these proceedings or a 10-minute pasta recipe. Votes for the game did outscore Maryland, but only barely:
Retweet if you want the game recap to be about this game. Fav if you want it to be about this gnocchi in creamy tomato sauce I just made.
— Seth M. Fisher (@Misopogon) October 3, 2015
How to Make Seth’s Creamy Gnocchi
Start by pre-heating the oven to 400 and shove the meatballs in (if you want to hurry this up just nuke ‘em for 4 minutes), then put the water on to boil. In another pan I pour some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sriracha, and—here’s the trick—a tablespoon of peanut butter. You melt down the peanut butter on medium until you have a nice brownish sauce. Add garlic too if you’re into that. When the water boils put the gnocchi in and turn down the heat.
They’ll cook pretty fast then pop to the surface, whence you’ll remove them with a slotted spoon to your saucepan. Once all the gnocchi is moved over, pour in a half a cup of 2% milk and your tomato sauce, turn the heat up to medium-plus, and cook it down until it’s getting thick-ish. Turn off the heat and let it cool until your meatballs are ready. Plop those on top, followed by your preferred level of parmesan, and you’re in business.
At this point you may relocate back to the living room to find that Michigan has scored on a screen to Drake Johnson and a jet sweep to Jehu Chesson, Maryland’s starting quarterback is on the bench, and Willie Henry is getting free hits on Daxx Garmin. Salt away with Drake Johnson runs and serve cold.
The one really bad thing for Michigan is Mario Ojemudia left the game with an apparent Achilles injury. I thought he had his best day as a Wolverine today; if it was indeed his last that is a huge loss.
The rest of your takeaways: Maryland is bad at football and should feel bad. Michigan is excellent at defense and should feel excellent. Rudock is turning out to be fine in a Krenzel sort of way. De’Veon Smith probably really is Michigan’s best back. And while there’s still plenty of 2014 left to Harbaugh out of this team, you can start believing that both Mr. Smith and MICHIGAN will be back for Homecoming.
Great coaches instill an unequivocal belief in their team that they can & will no matter the circumstance! These boys believe! #GoBlue
— Devin Gardner (@devingardnerXCI) October 3, 2015
via photoshop thread
By Heiko Yang
So, about last Saturday …
Oof. Nothing like a good kick in the nuts to remind yourself that you still got ‘em. I appreciate the Futurama reference, though.
Last week Nick and I both picked a Michigan loss, and this went about as well as either of us could have hoped for. Admittedly, we’ve been playing a little fast and loose with the rules of Punt/Counterpunt as a way to cope with the oppressive darkness of last season. This was a very appropriate reminder that dissidence during perestroika is not a good idea.
(You know what else is not a good idea? Punting to Will Likely. Don’t ask me about specifics; I just read it somewhere.)
This week Michigan travels to College Park as the overwhelming favorite against a Maryland team that would struggle in the MAC. They have no real starting quarterback, and they got their one somewhat substantial win by forcing South Florida to also play without its starting quarterback. A few days ago their coach appeared to be aware but not totally aware of what his football players were doing – it’s a sign that by now should be pathognomonic for an impending tire fire explosion, and there isn’t enough black that Under Armour can douse their uniforms with to put it out.
So don’t worry, neither Nick or I will be predicting a loss today.
Michigan is probably going to fall off from its exponential trajectory though. It’s another road game (weak argument I know, but I’ve got about 10 road games worth of personal data over the last few seasons that says overwhelmingly that Michigan is a bad road team), and it’s looking like the weather is going to reduce everything to a sloppy rugby match anyway. To minimize errors, I imagine Harbaugh will be happy to call the game the same way he’s been calling the second halves of each of the last few games, and the final result will reflect a low variance affair.
This game might set Michigan football back about a century. On the bright side, at least that’s the kind of football Michigan was always good at.
Michigan 13, Maryland 6
by Nick RoUMel
What an ass-kicking last week. No, I’m not talking about the game.
We, Punt and Counterpunt, were called out.
“Hackneyed and forced.” “Should be ashamed.” “Can we get rid of this now?” “So full of fail.” “Your posts are bad, and you should feel bad.” “Eat a dick.”
It was so brutal I heard from friends as far away as Palo Alto and Seattle asking if I were all right. The comments were so consistently negative that I embraced this one as a compliment: “Nick says things about stuff, I guess,” hanging onto it like a life preserver.
Many wondered aloud about the point of this column.
I’ve been Counterpunt since 1994. I served with “Punt Classic” (Ken “Sky” Walker) until he retired for the 2013 season, and Heiko (“New Punt”) took over. Mercifully, the column was on hiatus during the Rich Rod years, and then it was resurrected by MGoBlog and transformed from paper to electronic medium. There’s always plenty of serious discussion and debate about Michigan football, especially by this blog’s writers who are way more analytical than I will ever be. So I – we, Punt and I – try to bring a more humorous aspect.
Heiko has a great style, meandering around aimlessly like Barry Sanders in the Lions’ backfield, and then finds his opening and bursts through. Then you understand what his purpose was all along.
My typical formula is to make fun of Michigan’s opponent and discuss some aspect of the rivalry, then build up to the prediction. I did the same thing last week.
Where we went wrong was both picking against Michigan. While that was not unprecedented – for example, last year we both (correctly) picked losses to Utah and Ohio State – it was not so shocking then, given how far Michigan’s football expectations had fallen. As one commenter noted last week, our fan base has suffered serious damage.
This year was different. There is hope. Reflecting that, last week we were a 7 point favorite against a pretty good opponent. But to be fair, at that point, we did not have an impressive victory; we had questions about our quarterback; we were unaware how good Utah was shaping up to be; and we were still generally hoping for an 8-4 season as a good outcome.
What a difference a game makes. Now we are nationally ranked, a legitimate Big Ten title contender, and in line for a major bowl.
Maybe by season’s end, the truth will be somewhere in the middle. One thing is certain: no matter where we end up, it is clear we now have a coach. And that coaching is evident on the field. Do you remember how many times Brady Hoke would enter a Monday presser and blame the loss on lack of execution? Do you remember the missed tackles and other sloppy play?
Compare that with the execution against Brigham Young. We finished plays. From Darboh’s one handed catch, to Pepper’s throw down tackle, to Smith’s “Get Off Me” run, to Chesson’s block on Rudock’s TD run, to Rudock’s own lock-down execution - such as the play where he fake-looked off two receivers and found Khalid Hill.
Have no doubt – execution is a direct function of coaching.
So maybe Punt and Counterpunt succumbed - for one week and two badly blown predictions - to the deep-seated pessimism that was rooted in years of mediocrity. If Michigan can right itself, so can we.
I’ll leave you with this story: I once went on a golf weekend at Crystal Mountain with a friend. We had the first tee time, at something like 7:30 AM, so we could play two rounds that day. The weather was unseasonably cold and they delayed all starting times until after 10 AM, until the sun burned off the dew. By the time we got to the first tee, there must have been 50 impatient golfers who were going to follow us all day watching us hit our drives.
I whiffed. Not once, but twice. I finally grabbed a five iron and managed to hit a weak shot that at least moved me up the fairway.
Sometimes you just need a Mulligan.
MICHIGAN 28, MARYLAND 3
Trollface De'Veon Smith is the best De'Veon Smith.
On the roundtable this week:
- The aftermath of obliteration.
- Dime things.
- Mason Cole: fastest guy on the team?
- Sam on what Jeremy Clark brings at corner.
- Rudock's ability to find guys: needs improvement.
- Early-season numbers for Michigan are pretty interesting.
THE USUAL LINKS
Somehow, we’re already a full third of the way into the college football season and with league play starting for the Pac-12 and Big 12, opportunities for notable non-conference results have dwindled to a precious few (mostly the rivalry games held between the ACC and SEC East). From now on, we’ll be covering the world of college football on a league-by-league basis.
Even though there were quite a few byes across the conference, the Pac-12 still had the most important games of the weekend. College football’s Week Four was headlined by a trio of intriguing Pac-12 contests; unfortunately, they were mostly a disappointment for the unpartisan viewer – by halftime of those three games, the road teams (UCLA, Utah, and USC) were routing their hosts (Arizona, Oregon, and Arizona State, respectively) in impressive fashion. The three winners on the evening are now the favorites in the potentially excellent Pac-12 South – interestingly, a league with supposedly unparalleled parity (especially in the South) has more definition in its title race than many other conferences.
[Hit the JUMP for more on the college football world]
|WHAT||Michigan at Maryland|
College Park, MD
October 3rd, 2015
|THE LINE||Michigan –15.5|
|PARKING||suggest you bring a kayak|
|WEATHER||mid 50s, 25% chance of rain, 20 MPH wind|
Ceilingturtle is watching you… well, you know.
Maryland is bad. They were outgained about 2-to-1 in a 21-point loss to Bowling Green in which they gave up almost 700 yards of offense. They were just blown out by West Virginia 45-6 in another game they just about got doubled up in. Their wins are over an FCS team most notable for once having John Beilein as its basketball coach and South Florida.
They had a team meeting this week that Randy Edsall had no idea about, and then Edsall misinterpreted Forrest Gump. Forrest Gump is not exactly Zizek, whoever Zizek is. Ask MGoWife. I think he was a Hungarian waffle impresario or something.
The current forecast has winds around 20 MPH and a 25% chance of rain. Meteorologist dudes say that there will be gusts:
The main weather factor to affect Michigan's game will be strong, gusty winds. The wind gusts are still expected to be over 30 mph out of the northeast. There even could be a gust near 40 mph.
But the rain should be intermittent and not ridiculous:
Deep passing will be erratic and special teams will be impacted by the wind, but this shouldn't be a complete disaster.
Run Offense vs Maryland
Yannick Ngakoue is back. Ain't nobody else.
This is going to be a theme for this year and all subsequent ones: dunno, but probably destruction. The Terrapins have not played anything like Harbaugh's offense. They have not done well against the spread attacks they've faced so far. That's not a huge surprise. They lost six of seven starters from their front seven and have been gashed in every game except Richmond. I'm not taking out Maryland's many sacks because you get the idea anyway:
- vs Bowling Green: 50 carries, 201 yards
- vs USF: 50 carries, 240 yards
- vs WVU: 59 carries, 304 yards
When Ace settled in for a review of that West Virginia game he came back with many screenshots of lanes a battleship could scoot through:
West Virginia got whatever they wanted because they controlled the line of scrimmage. Maryland's defensive tackles, especially, couldn't prevent WVU from opening huge creases up the gut. This went for a big gain because a DT got pancaked so quickly that Kyle Bosch—yes, that Kyle Bosch—could get out to the MIKE and nobody else was home:
Safeties are making a ton of tackles for the Terps. Their linebackers are constantly eating blocks; nobody on the front seven is able to make much impact against single blocking. The good news for Maryland, such that it is, is that the Terps have been playing a 4-3 much of the year. They won't have to change their personnel much in an attempt to match up.
That defense sounds like something Michigan should tear apart. Harbaugh's maniacs have spent big chunks of the past couple games with one wide receiver on the field and that's been fine. Michigan has ripped off few big runs; the constant pounding has seen their rush offense approach 5 YPC despite a ton of missed cuts and a second-half tendency to put the horses back in the barn after sprinting to a four-score lead. Blocking has been consistent but not overwhelming; this looks like a defense against whom consistent will be overwhelming.
Meanwhile, Harbaugh's weird-ass offense is well suited to deal with any weather issues that may arise. Many weather games devolve into hopeless slogs because opposing defenses get cocky and bring everyone to the line of scrimmage. That is already happening to Michigan's offense and they're still banging out five yards a carry. All rain does is make the prospect of tackling De'Veon Smith even more daunting.
KEY MATCHUP: RUNNING BACKS versus MICHIGAN RUNNING LANES HAVING SOME SORT OF WEIRD STEALTH MODE
[Hit THE JUMP for YOU GAVE UP WHAT TO WHO?]